On Monday, 13 February, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) held a ceremony in Burj Barajneh refugee camp in Beirut, Lebanon, to recognize the generous in-kind donation of winter clothes, valued at nearly US$ 500,000, from Fast Retailing Co. Ltd., which owns the globally renowned UNIQLO clothing chain, to help some of the most vulnerable Palestine refugees in Lebanon. The ceremony was attended by His Excellency Matahiro Yamaguchi, Ambassador of Japan to Lebanon, and Hakam Shahwan, acting Director of UNRWA Affairs in Lebanon, as well as Yukihiro Nitta, Group Senior Vice-President of Corporate Social Responsibility at Fast Retailing Co. Ltd.
Today, some 65 per cent of Palestine refugees from Lebanon (PRL) and some 90 per cent of Palestine refugees from Syria in Lebanon (PRS) live in poverty, with 9 per cent of PRS and 3 per cent of PRL living in extreme poverty. These circumstances make it hard for families to afford warm clothing, with the pressures of food and shelter sometimes taking priority.
To help address this issue, UNIQLO donated around 43,000 pieces of winter clothing to UNRWA this year, targeting some 21,500 impoverished Palestine refugees (40 per cent of whom are from Syria) living in nine Palestine refugee camps across Lebanon. Through this generous donation, UNIQLO, with the support of the Japanese NGO ‘Campaign for the Children of Palestine’ (CCP), is helping families to cope with the difficult circumstances they face; it is one of the many distributions being carried out in Lebanon with the support of Women’s Programme Associations across the country.
Commenting on the recent donation, Mr. Nitta said, “We are pleased to have been donating UNIQLO clothes to refugees and displaced people all over the world for over 10 years. Our clothing is very comfortable and easy to wear, and I hope that the items we have donated today can help to keep people warm and happy.”
Recognizing the donation, Mr. Shahwan said: “I would like to acknowledge the generosity of UNIQLO and recognize its donations over the past two years to Palestine refugee families, especially children, to help them to survive the winter. Thanks to today’s donation, more than 22,000 Palestine refugees in Lebanon will receive winterization support from UNIQLO.”
He continued, “I want to applaud UNIQLO for its leading example of corporate philanthropy and kindness to Palestine refugees living in very difficult circumstances in Lebanon and greatly appreciate its ongoing support for Palestine refugees.”
Following the ceremony, clothes were distributed to beneficiaries from the Burj Barajneh camp. The delegation subsequently visited the camp to see first-hand the situations that the camp’s residents live in and met with Palestine refugee beneficiaries from Lebanon and from Syria.
Fast Retailing Co. Ltd is a public Japanese retail holding company. In addition to its primary subsidiary UNIQLO, it owns several other brands, including J Brand, Comptoir des Cotonniers, g.u., Princesse Tam-Tam and Theory.
In 2015, UNIQLO generously donated 1,000 pieces of clothes and 500 pairs of socks to 250 Palestine refugee children from Syria children living in Wavel camp, Beqaa. The distribution was done in close cooperation and coordination between UNRWA and the Japanese NGO CCP Japan.
During the 2016-2017 winter season, UNRWA also received 2,400 pieces of winter clothing from CCP Japan, which were distributed in January 2017 at the Taberia School in Wavel.
UNRWA is confronted with an increased demand for services resulting from a growth in the number of registered Palestine refugees, the extent of their vulnerability and their deepening poverty. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions and financial support has been outpaced by the growth in needs. As a result, the UNRWA Programme Budget, which supports the delivery of core essential services, operates with a large shortfall. UNRWA encourages all Member States to work collectively to exert all possible efforts to fully fund the Agency’s Programme Budget. UNRWA emergency programmes and key projects, also operating with large shortfalls, are funded through separate funding portals.
UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and mandated to provide assistance and protection to some 5 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip achieve their full human development potential, pending a just and lasting solution to their plight. UNRWA services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, protection and microfinance.
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